A BLEND UNDER THE MICOSCOPE

THE SUCCESS OF "TOP CLASS"

We went directly to the Lavazza Laboratory to hear firsr hand the story of this blend, which continues to consolidate its position in the Italian market (see graph) and which is also appreciated abroad. In fact, the staff of the Lavazza Laboratory, in particular the team of tasters, were directly involved in the study and the design of the blend.

In 1989, the year in which Top Class came out, Lavazza was already selling in the shops a range of seven different blends of whole bean coffee, each one with its own "regional" taste, capable of competing with the blends being offered by the various local coffee roasting houses. Basically, delicate, sweet blends with little body in the North and strong, full-bodied blends in the South. The strategic task given to this new blend was to overcome this regional barrier and to become, exceptions permitting, the Lavazza Bar blend "par excellence", a point of reference for both image and quality, capable of satisfying the taste of all coffee lovers from North to South. It would be a blend capable of sending out a strong message to the market, on which Lavazza could consolidate its identity among the small private shops and bars.

The first phase of the project was to carry out market analysis and systematic surveys of the most important products being offered by the competition, even by the smallest local coffee roasting houses. These products were tested locally and a survey was made up region by region of the bars and shops. The blends thought most interesting were then scientifically analyzed in the laboratory and each sample identified bean by bean, with the aim of discovering the origin of each one and its importance to the blend.

Once the lab analyses were completed the next phase was to have professional tasters actually test the blends. It is always useful to have this type of information, and not just for specific projects, as it helps to understand the habits and tastes of bar customers all over the country. This type of database is indispensible, if not to identify the exact ideal blend, at least to have a basic aroma and flavour profile of one in the making: sweet, leaving a pleasant chocolate aftertaste, well balanced and decisively full-bodied. And this is what identifies Top Class.

The complex process of perfecting the recipe began with some sample blends being prepared: the base Arabicas in the case of Top Class are a lot sweeter than usual, and the blend was then enriched, for aroma and delicacy, by the highly prized Washed Arabicas from Central America. Still, something was missing. That specials Italian touch which in the end was added thanks to a very particular Indonesian variety of coffee bean.

The first tests on the sample blends took place at the Lavazza factory, where a dozen different espresso machines were used, in the presence of commercial managers from the different Italian offices, who had been called upon to carry out the tasting. During the tests the sample blends were pushed to their limit. The base parameters of the different machines, e.g. pressure and temperature, were altered in order to ascertain and measure in what conditions the blends could continue to give their best. At the end of the various tests, the tasters from the Laboratory and the bar workers were all but unanimous: the newly created blend proved to be worthy of the objective that had been set, in terms of flavour and aroma. And that was not all. Top Class passed all the tests with flying colours, proving to be a blend that was very "tolerant", capable of performing well even when worked with mediocre equipment.

When the test phase was completely finished, the first production lot was distributed to the most trusted and professional customers from all over the country and once this ultimate test had been passed the product was finally fully launched in November 1989. Thus the blend which was to be the symbol of its sector was born and it was to become the emblem of Lavazza's renewed relationship with its professional clients. (from Notizie Lavazza - Dec. 1994)

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